How to use leading lines in photography

All pictures, whether they are photographs of people, animals, portraits or events, will stand a far better chance of attracting the viewer’s eye – and holding it within the picture – if the composition is good. The use of leading lines within your composition can be a highly effective device – but one that is often seriously abused or misunderstood.

Good composition does not have to be confined to landscape photography.

So what makes a good composition?

It varies according the to subject. Hard rules, despite what some photography competition judges might tell you, don’t work all the time for every subject. You can, in fact, sometimes even make up your own rules as you go along – provided you know what the basic rules are in the first place.

The overriding priority has to be to attract and hold the viewer’s eye within your picture.

The picture below conforms to no absolute rules I know of except that the human eye nearly always responds favourably to the magic number 3.


Notice the natural leading lines within this composition. They help attract and hold the viewer's eye

Notice the natural leading lines within this composition. They help attract and hold the viewer's eye. I took this photograph in the Quantock Hills for The Sunday Times


There is an obvious triangle of leading lines in the picture – and triangles (that magic number 3) can be highly effective and pleasing. Here they have helped create a focal point.

I’m prepared to bet that when you first looked at this picture your eye went directly to the area that contains the faces of the man and the dog.  Quite right. There are three (there’s that 3 again) reasons for this.

  • You are human and are naturally attracted to find out what other people look like.
  • Your eye was guided there because that area of the image is contained by a three leading lines created by lighter tones of the grass, the stick, and finally the eye lines of man and dog.
  • The whole image is ‘capped’ by the dark area of the skyline and dark clouds. Your eye should certainly head up there to gather information, but it is naturally drawn back to the lighter area in and around our triangle.


The magic triangle of diagonal leading lines within the composition of this photograph bring vitality and focus to the image

The magic triangle of diagonal leading lines within the composition of this photograph bring vitality and focus to the image


Remember:

  • Eye lines – that means the direction in which a subject is looking – automatically become leading lines
  • Lighter areas attract the eye like a moth to light

These simple photographic or compositional techniques are vital if you ever want to create images that sell – travel photographs, for instance.

I’ll try to dig out some more examples of leading lines and composition., meanwhile if you want to learn more about good composition, my DVD Light and Composition is available here


Photographer NOT Terrorist

The newly-launched campaign – Photographer NOT Terrorist –  is gathering momentum.

All good fortune to the them.

Photographer NOT TerroristFor years now heavy-handed police tactics and stupid police interpretation of even more ridiculous laws have helped fuel an atmosphere of fear among the British public against ordinary photographers enjoying their creative and harmless hobby in public places. A hobby worth many millions of pounds in business and trade in Britain. A hobby responsible for recording the social history of our towns and way of life for well over a century.

The situation is far worse for professional photographers.

I urge all photographers to join this campaign and make a stand against insidious legislation that is encouraging over-zealous police to abuse their powers. Powers that have nothing to do with the so-called fight against terrorism or child abuse. They have everything to do with a grasp for extra police supervision in what is fast becoming a police state.

In the 1930s, the people of Germany, hardly realised that their freedoms were being eroded until one day they woke up to find they had no freedoms left at all. The parallel in Britain today are horribly similar.

The Photographer NOT Terrorist website has a very useful downloadable card which all photographers should carry with them at all times – they should learn its contents by heart. It spells out briefly what you should do if you are stopped by a policeman under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act…

You do NOT have to give:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • DNA or any reason for being where you are
  • Nor are you obliged where you are going
  • However, if the police decide there is reasonable suspicions to arrest you for an offence you do have to give your name and address.
  • You do NOT have to comply with police attempts to photograph you, although you can not flee the scene.
  • Police can NOT delete images from your camera
  • They are only entitled to view your images in very limited circumstances

You can download the card which contains much more helpful information for photographers here Photographer NOT Terrorist bust card

For anyone who has actually had to deal with our modern police at first hand, the guidelines above may sound all well and good. But when you are face to face with a legalised thug wearing a baseball cap with POLICE written on it, the reality can be very intimidating and frightening.

It is a very sorry state of affairs when both the laws and law enforcers of this country work against freedoms and common sense.

Photographer NOT Terrorist campaign






Sony Alpha 350 with Live View


My previous post – An Eye for Street Photography – showed pictures taken on a Sony Alpha 300 by PhotoActive student Fred Wilkinson.
I have to say I was mighty impressed by his Sony DLSR. In particular I liked its tilting screen and live view facility. Its 10.2 megapixels is perfectly adequate for most photographers.
However for those who want to pile on the megapixels, the Sony A350 combines all the benefits of Sony’s excellent live view with a whapping great 14.2 megapixel capacity. The A350 has a two-way 2.7inch tilting LCD to make life really easy.
I’ve been looking at some of the reviews on the Sony A350 and I’m not the only photographer to be impressed by the camera. Take a look at Testfreaks.co.uk and you’ll see that the average review score for the Alpha 350 is just 6.8. I think it deserves a much higher rating because this is a fine little camera that is suitable for novices and more advanced photographers alike.
You can buy the Sony Alpha 350 online from the PhotoActive Camera Shop. The camera body only is available at £389.90, and also the Sony Alpha 350X complete with DT 18-70mm f3.5 – f5.6 and DT 55-200mm f4.5 – f5.6 zoom lenses. I think this is a real bargain at £575.99 for a what amounts to complete camera kit.
The idea of a tilting LCD screen and live view facility, has, in my opinion, been one of the most significant advances in digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs).
No longer is it necessary to prostrate yourself on the ground and try to peer through the camera’s viewfinder when you want to get a low angle on your subject. It is now a simple matter to lift out the tilting screen, press the Live View button and you can place the camera right down on the ground to frame and compose you photograph.
In the days of film this was a facility taken for granted when using a twin lens reflex camera. It was even possible with a Nikon F3 simply by removing the viewfinder prism and looking down into the screen. I have taken many picture like this – and also by holding the camera above my head to gain height.
With the Sony A350, you can even tilt the screen to enable you to see around corners – now that really is a boon for those candid shots – or as Fred Wilkinson described it – ‘observational’ street photography.


My previous post – An Eye for Street Photography – showed pictures taken on a Sony Alpha 300 by PhotoActive student Fred Wilkinson.

I have to say I was mighty impressed by his Sony DLSR. In particular I liked its tilting screen and Live View facility. Its 10.2 megapixels is perfectly adequate for most photographers.

sony alpha 350 dslr cameraHowever for those who want to pile on the megapixels, the Sony A350 combines all the benefits of Sony’s excellent Live View with a whapping great 14.2 megapixel capacity. The Sony A350 has a two-way 2.7inch tilting LCD to make life really easy.

I’ve been looking at some of the reviews on the Sony A350 and I’m not the only photographer to be impressed by the camera. Take a look at TestFreaks.co.uk and you’ll see that the average review score for the Alpha 350 is just 6.8. I think it might well deserve a higher rating because this is a fine, versatile  little camera that is suitable for novices and more advanced photographers alike.

You can buy the Sony Alpha 350 online from the PhotoActive Camera Shop. The camera body only is available there at £389.90, and also the Sony Alpha 350X complete with DT 18-70mm f3.5 – f5.6 and DT 55-200mm f4.5 – f5.6 zoom lenses. I think this is a real bargain at £575.99 for a what amounts to complete camera kit.

sony alpha 350 digital cameraThe idea of a tilting LCD screen and Live View facility has, in my opinion, been one of the most significant advances in digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs).

No longer is it necessary to prostrate yourself on the ground and try to peer through the camera’s viewfinder when you want to get a low angle on your subject. It is now a simple matter to lift out the tilting screen, press the Live View button and you can place the camera right down on the ground to frame and compose you photograph.

In the days of film this was a facility taken for granted when using a twin lens reflex camera. It was even possible with a Nikon F3 simply by removing the viewfinder prism and looking down into the screen. I have taken many picture like this – and also by holding the camera above my head to gain height.

With the Sony A350, you can even tilt the screen to enable you to see around corners – now that really is a boon for those candid shots – or as Fred Wilkinson described it – ‘observational’ street photography.




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An eye for street photography

I have always had a passion for street photography. I simple love photographing people just going about their business and getting on with their lives. I’m proud to say that I gained a small reputation while working for The Sunday Times for my candid pictures of people in the street.

When students come to me for photography tuition for the first time, I always ask them to bring some of their previous photographs – good and maybe not quite so good. This is our starting point. It gets us working together and helps me see how I can offer the best possible photography coaching.

Imagine my delight when at the start of a day of one-to-one photography tuition, Fred Wilkinson showed me these great street photographs.

Street photography - Down and out in Paris

Fred’s interest in photography began about 5 years ago when he started taking pictures in a compact digital camera while walking the dog. He developed an interest in what he calls ‘observational’ street photography.

“While other photographers seemed to photograph impressive views, landscapes and townscapes, my attention was drawn to the real life situations around me: lovers holding hands, old men reading their newspapers. The simple, ordinary events of day to day living”, says Fred.

Candid Photography - Along the SeineFred, who has now retired from his job with the council in County Durham, made up his mind to learn more about photography – and in particular how to get more from his camera. He came to me for tuition.

Previously, Fred had used only the AV auto setting on his camera. With a little guidance, he was soon shooting away happily – and successfully – on Manual Exposure mode. Together we explored various locations along the coast here in SW Scotland, photographing everything from flowers to water reflections. We even explored the use of creative flash photography.

photographer Fred Wilkinson

This is what Fred, pictured left,  had to say about his day’ photography tuition:

“…thank you so much for a fantastic 1 to 1 day. I got so much from it. Your practical, non-jargon explanations and demonstrations were superb and the hands-on practical exercises were inspirational. Indeed I’ve already been out there with my camera since returning home, with renewed vigour and putting into practice the lessons learnt from the day. Kind regards to you (and to Norene for the hospitality) Fred”


From the top, Fred Wilkinson’s pictures are:

Down and Out in Paris
Minolta 5D
1/20sec f14.0
ISO 200

Along the Seine
Sony A300
1/30sec f6.3
ISO 100

Taxi!
Sony A300
1/40sec f 6.3
ISO 400


candid photographs Fred Wilkinson


I did pull Fred up about a couple of his assumptions… one of those was his interpretation of what he is actually seeing.

The picture ‘Taxi’, above is a good example of the photographer assuming – incorrectly – that the viewer of his or her picture knows what he  knows. Fred knew these people were calling a taxi. But where are the visual clues to communicate this to the viewer of his picture? There are none. The picture has absolutely no connections with taxis – even if Fred watched them hail a cab and get into one, this is not in his picture.

The travel photographer or street photographer must never assume knowledge on the part of his viewer. He must tell the story with visual hints or clues. It never hurts to be a little obvious if you want to get your message across.

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Why did I photograph the laughing horse?

I thought I would share this photograph with you – yes, I’ve been poking around in that photo archive of mine again looking for pictures to fit a client’s particular needs. During the search I came across this picture of a laughing horse.

Whenever I do these picture searches I always seem to find images that I have completely forgotten. That’s hardly surprising as there are around 150,000 negatives and at least the same number of colour transparencies. I once started to catalogue it all but the task got completely out of hand and I had to admit defeat.
In this case I cannot remember where I took the picture or what the occasion was. I simply have the word ‘Klute’ on the negative sleeve and the date Aug 88. I do know that the assignment was done for The Times newspaper.
I have run a Google search but come up only with lots of references to a Jane Fonda movie.
Perhaps someone can shed some light – was on earth was Klute? Did he win something special?

photo of Klute

Whenever I do these picture searches I always seem to find images that I have completely forgotten about. That’s hardly surprising as there are around 150,000 black and white negatives and at least the same number of colour transparencies.

I once started to catalogue it all but the task got completely out of hand and I had to admit defeat.

In this case I cannot remember where I took the picture or what the occasion was. I simply have the word ‘Klute’ on the negative sleeve and the date Aug 88. I do know that the assignment was done for The Times newspaper.

The horse certainly seems to have something to laugh about.

I have run a Google search but come up only with lots of references to a Jane Fonda movie.

Perhaps someone can shed some light – who on earth was this Klute? Did he win something special?




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July Photo Challenge winners’ critiques

The PhotoActive Forum Monthly Challenge once again produced some beautiful images and here are the top six and their positions after the forum members poll.

The subject for the July Photo Challenge was ‘ON FOOT’

I have given my comments and critique for each image and these are intended to be constructive and helpful

You can join in the Monthly PhotoActive Challenge and get free professional critique. Just sign up to the PhotoActive Forum and join the friendliest and most helpful photographic ‘club’ on the internet. You’ll get free professional guidance and have the benefits of a sharing photographic community.

FIRST TOP FAVOURITE

july photo challenge top favourite

Photograph B by Sudds
41% of the votes

An outright winner and deservedly so.

This picture has charm and humour. A cracking good photograph. The stance and expression is perfect – the lighting is good and the timing spot on.

Sudds has, I think, deliberately positioned the figure on the vertical right hand third of the composition. This is absolutely fine, but with this sort of human figure shot it is perhaps not absolutely necessary to be so exact. If you are too precise, it can become noticeable. So, just relax a tad and don’t be too worried about the positioning when you are photographing people in this sort of pose.

Beautifully done Sudds


SECOND

July photo challenge favourite 2

Photograph E by Tenderfoot
25% of the votes

This really is in the spirit of the theme ‘On Foot’. Well-framed, well-timed  and well-exposed.

Photographing a farrier at work might seem a very easy subject, but actually it is not. For one thing the position of the farrier can be awkward as he bends over to place the shoe on the horse’s foot. Here Tenderfoot (how appropriate) has composed everything very well and there is a sense of the strength needed for the work.

The whisp of smoke has also contributed to the atmosphere and helps tell the story.

Canon EOS 350D
ISO 400
1/400sec F13


THIRD

photo challenge favourite 3

Photograph D by Crookymonster
13% of the votes

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I had to grope around in my imagination to justify putting this in the poll for the theme ‘On Foot’ I justified my decision by the fact that the insect spends most of its time on the wing and here is a picture of it on foot. But it was close.

Anyway it is a superb photograph: techically excellent and visually fascinating.

The angles of the twig and the insect’s wings work together perfectly to present a very strong geometric composition. This picture would not have worked at all if that background had not been thrown out of focus so very effectively.

All in all a very competent and interesting photograph with much to reward the curious viewer.


FORTH

photo challenge favourite 4

Photograph F by John Glover
9% of the votes

There’s something of the ‘Lowry’ in this photograph and I like it very much. It has something to do with the choice of camera angle – looking slightly down. The colours of the figures – lots of blacks and reds and greens, and the positioning of the individual figures – spaced out in some places, bunched in others. It also has a strange two-dimensional element due to the use of a longer-than-standard focal length lens. I’m guessing, but probably around 100mm equivalent.

I once photographed Lowry, and he told me that “People just don’t appreciate how carefully, and how much time goes into the positioning of each of my figures”. Well here John has managed to capture something of that in just 1/60sec.

Canon EOS 450
ISO 500
1/60sec f 4


JOINT FIFTH

photo challenge favourite 5

Photograph A by Simon W
6% of the votes

There a whole array of different ‘On Foot’ possibilities within this photograph. But of course the main subject is in the kilt with the pint put at his feet.

That beer glass gives the whole composition focus and interest and helps set the atmosphere of a sunny summer day at a fair or country event.

In short, I think the image works very well and was very well spotted and captured.

Nikon D300
ISO 400
1/320sec
F9


JOINT FIFTH

photo challenge favourite joint 5th

Photograph C by Maria
6% of the votes

I stuck my neck out with this one, so I hope it does not get cut off.

I do not think this is a paste-up in Photoshop. I do think it is genuine and that Maria actually had those wellie boots thown into the air and snapped ‘em before they hit the ground.

It is a fun shot, and – if my assumption is correct – this has taken a degree of care and some setting up. There is certainly one flash, quite possibly two flashes, lighting those boots. Either that or there is one helluva reflector putting light back against the sunlight.

So, once having assumed the picture was genuine, it was easy to relax and enjoy the fun of it. I actually thought it deserved a bit more recognition.


The subject for the August Photo Challenge is ‘WINDOWS’
Join in with the Monthly Photo Challenge on the PhotoActive Forum



FIRST PLACE
Photograph B by Sudds
41% of the votes
An outright winner and deservedly so.
This picture has charm and humour. A cracking good photograph. The stance and expression is perfect – the
lighting is good and the timing spot on.
Sudds has, I think, deliberately positioned the figure on the vertical right hand third of the composition.
This is absolutely fine, but with this sort of human figure shot it is perhaps not absolutely necessary to be
so exact. If you are too precise, it can become noticeable. So, just relax a tad and don’t be too worried
about the positioning when you are photographing people in this sort of pose.
Beautifully done Sudds
SECOND PLACE
Photograph E by Tenderfoot
25% of the votes
This really is in the spirit of the theme ‘On Foot’. Well-framed, well-timed  and well-exposed.
Photographing a farrier at work might seem a very easy subject, but actually it is not. For one thing the
position of the farrier can be awkward as he bends over to place the shoe on the horse’s foot. Here
Tenderfoot (how appropriate) has composed everything very well and there is a sense of the strength needed
for the work.
The whisp of smoke has also contributed to the atmosphere and helps tell the story.
Canon EOS 350D
ISO 400
1/400sec F13
THIRD PLACE
Photograph D by Crookymonster
13% of the votes
I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I had to grope around in my imagination to justify putting this
in the poll for the theme ‘On Foot’ I justified my decision by the fact that the insect spends most of its
time on the wing and here is a picture of it on foot. But it was close.
Anyway it is a superb photograph: techically excellent and visually fascinating.
The angles of the twig and the insect’s wings work together perfectly to present a very strong geometric
composition. This picture would not have worked at all if that background had not been thrown out of focus so
very effectively.
All in all a very competent and interesting photograph with much to reward the curious viewer.
FOUTH PLACE
Photograph F by John Glover
9% of the votes
There’s something of the ‘Lowry’ in this photograph and I like it very much. It has something to do with the
choice of camera angle – looking slightly down. The colours of the figures – lots of blacks and reds and
greens, and the positioning of the individual figures – spaced out in some places, bunched in others. It also
has a strange two-dimensional element due to the use of a longer-than-standard focal length lens. I’m
guessing, but probably around 100mm equivalent.
I once photographed Lowry, and he told me that “People just don’t appreciate how carefully, and how much time
goes into the positioning of each of my figures”. Well here John has managed to capture something of that in
just 1/60sec.
Canon EOS 450
ISO 500
1/60sec f 4
JOINT FIFTH PLACE
Photograph A by Simon W
6% of the votes
There a whole array of different ‘On Foot’ possibilities within this photograph. But of course the main
subject is in the kilt with the pint put at his feet.
That beer glass gives the whole composition focus and interest and helps set the atmosphere of a sunny summer
day at a fair or country event.
In short, I think the image works very well and was very well spotted and captured.
Nikon D300
ISO 400
1/320sec
F9
JOINT FIFTH PLACE
Photograph C by Maria
6% of the votes
I stuck my neck out with this one, so I hope it does not get cut off.
I do not think this is a paste-up in Photoshop. I do think it is genuine and that Maria actually had those
wellie boots thown into the air and snapped ‘em before they hit the ground.
It is a fun shot, and – if my assumption is correct – this has taken a degree of care and some setting up.
There is certainly one flash, quite possibly two flashes, lighting those boots. Either that or there is one
helluva reflector putting light back against the sunlight.
So, once having assumed the picture was genuine, it was easy to relax and enjoy the fun of it. I actually
thought it deserved a bit more recognition.


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Wedding photography

Good wedding photographers are worth their weight in gold. The best of them are highly professional and gifted photographers.

wedding photograph - signing the registerI am not a wedding photographer and would need a lot of persuading before I accepted a commission to photograph a wedding.

Still, when your son is getting married, and the couple ask you take some photographs, you have to do something, don’t you. Christian and Carlotta did not want an ‘official’ photographer at the wedding – so dad would have to take lots of pictures – and guests were encouraged to take even more on throw-away cameras to be supplied at the reception.

wedding photograph of the brideWell, they do say that a cobbler’s children are always poorly shod – and the same principle applies to a photographers’ kids. We certainly don’t have a lot of family snaps of our kids, so it follows that the arrangements for family wedding photographs might be a little – well, let’s just say disorganised.

I did not want to use a big camera for this task – it was our son’s wedding, after all, and I had every intention of relaxing and enjoying the occasion. I relaxed even more when I saw that one of Christian’s colleagues, a photographer on his newspaper, had arrived and had volunteered to do the main family groups.

I used my Canon G9 to take some stills photographs and little Canon Ixus 950IS to shoot video. The results are very pleasing.

I have posted three pictures here. The shot of the couple signing the registry after the ceremony is a little noisy because the ISO was pushed to 800, but otherwise the quality is perfectly acceptable.

Anyway, the wedding was a tremendous success and everything worked perfectly. The happy couple and everyone else had a lovely day.

So who’s that behind the disposable camera? It’s Carl, our very own moderator from the PhotoActive Forum. He popped round to the wedding party in the evening – leaving his Nikon D300 behind – and offered to take some party snaps. Thank you Carl, we are looking forward to getting the films processed.

wedding photographer with disposable camera



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How to improve a photograph

This is one of the entries for the July Photo Challenge on the PhotoActive Forum. It did not make it though to the poll, so I would like to explain my reasons.

On the basis that I hope Siobhan knows that anything I say about her photograph is intended to help her, I will give some constructive comments about this one.
Sit down, Siobhan, hold tight, I need to be frank – to me this picture just does not work at all.
Why?
The main reasons…
Too many elements in the picture
Elements in the picture not linked by the composition
Large unsatisfying area at the bottom section
Many distractions in the top section
I feel cheated that I cannot see more of the man, or woman
Poor exposure
The message of this picture is far from clear. Is it about the wheelbarrow, the path, the grass or the graveyard?
I had to look quite closely to work out that those objects at the top of the frame are actually gravestones. So if you wanted to tell your viewer that here is a person maintaining a graveyard, the massage was not communicated.
So what might have made this idea work?
Unless you see a picture that simply HAS to be captured, chances are you will need to consider what you are trying to achieve.
What was it about this scene that caught your eye?
If it was the person’s feet (bearing in mind the ‘ON FOOT’ challenge theme), why not move in more closely and concentrate on those.
If it was a combination of the person’s feet, the wheelbarrow and the gravestones or the flowers. You simply must find a way of pulling those elements together.
For instance: get the person to walk behind the wheelbarrow and to push it nearer the gravestones or the flowers. Perhaps a side view, and zoom in with a longer focal length lens to isolate a particular part of the composition (probably the feet).
I don’t have a problem with you photographing the bottom half of the person providing there is sufficient visual interest in what I can see to satisfy my curiosity about that person. If this person was actually pushing the wheelbarrow and you included the hands in the picture, I would be able to se what he was doing (pushing the wheelbarrow). But as it is I can see just one hand – and that’s held in a slightly odd position. I have no clues as to whether he or she is a gardener or just someone walking past an abandoned wheelbarrow.
Exposure? Well, I suspect you were on one of the automatic settings and the camera has been fooled by the dark foreground into over exposure.
Answer?
Set the exposure for the brighter area of the scene in Manual Mode, or use Auto Exposure Lock (AEL) on the brighter area if you are using one of the auto modes.
I do hope all that does not put you off Siobhan. I know you can produce lovely pictures. I would prefer that my comments fired your enthusiasm to produce even more.
The poll to choose your favourite picture from the July Challenge ‘ON FOOT’ is still open. Vote now

The idea of the PhotoActive Monthly Photo Challenge is to encourage photographers to get out there with their cameras taking pictures. The added benefit is that I will try to give as much constructive criticism as I possibly can – not just to the winners.

The winner of the picture voted top favourite for the year will get a full day of one-to-one personal tuition with me absolutely free.

This is one of the entries for the July Photo Challenge on the PhotoActive Forum. It did not make it though to the poll, so I would like to explain my reasons.

On the basis that I hope Siobhan knows that anything I say about her photograph is intended to help her, I will give some constructive comments about this one.

Sit down, Siobhan, hold tight, I need to be frank – but I have to be if I’m going to help. To me this picture just does not work at all.

Why?

The main reasons…

  • Too many elements in the picture
  • Elements in the picture not linked by the composition
  • Large unsatisfying area at the bottom section
  • Many distractions in the top section
  • I feel cheated that I cannot see more of the man, or woman
  • Poor exposure

On the plus side, the dark area of foreground does allow the eye to move upwards into the top part of the picture.

The message of this picture is far from clear. Is it about the wheelbarrow, the path, the grass or the graveyard?

entry in photo challenge critiqueI had to look quite closely to work out that those objects at the top of the frame are actually gravestones. So if you wanted to tell your viewer that here is a person maintaining a graveyard, the message was not communicated visually.

So what might have made this idea work?

Unless you see a picture that simply HAS to be captured, something obvious, chances are you will need to consider what you are trying to achieve.

What was it about this scene that caught your eye?

If it was the person’s feet (bearing in mind the ‘ON FOOT’ challenge theme), why not move in more closely and concentrate on those.

If it was a combination of the person’s feet, the wheelbarrow and the gravestones or the flowers. You simply must find a way of pulling those elements together.

For instance: get the person to walk behind the wheelbarrow and to push it nearer the gravestones or the flowers. Perhaps a side view, and zoom in with a longer focal length lens to isolate a particular part of the composition (probably the feet).

I don’t have a problem with you photographing the bottom half of the person providing there is sufficient visual interest in what I can see to satisfy my curiosity about that person. If this person was actually pushing the wheelbarrow and you included the hands in the picture, I would be able to se what he was doing (pushing the wheelbarrow). But as it is I can see just one hand – and that’s held in a slightly odd position. I have no clues as to whether he or she is a gardener or just someone walking past an abandoned wheelbarrow.

Exposure? Well, I suspect you were on one of the automatic settings and the camera has been fooled by the dark foreground into over exposure.

Answer?

Set the exposure for the brighter area of the scene in Manual Mode, or use Auto Exposure Lock (AEL) on the brighter area if you are using one of the auto modes.

I do hope all that does not put you off Siobhan. I know you can produce lovely pictures. I would prefer that my comments fired your enthusiasm to produce even more.

The poll to choose your favourite picture from the July Challenge ‘ON FOOT’ is still open. Vote now.

The August Photo Challenge theme is WINDOWS – join the PhotoActive forum now and get your entries in. You could win a day of free photography tuition



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Image cropping poll

This photograph was taken at one of the locations we visit in Menorca on our photography holidays last year. I’ve mentioned several times my fascination for taking pictures in derelict building – well they don’t come any more derelict than this.

I just love the colour of that green lichen that has grown on the wash basin over many years. I wonder who last washed his face in that bowl?

The pictures was taken on my Canon G9
ISO 200
1/5sec
F6.3

No tripod was used and I simply pressed my back against a wall in an attempt to keep the camera as still as possible for the 1/5sec exposure. I did not want to push the ISO up beyond 200, although I did experiment. In fact despite the slow exposure, those pictures taken at the low ISO and slow shutter speeds were of better quality.

I am curious to know if people prefer the cropped or uncropped version or this picture. I know which I prefer – but how about you? I have posted a simple poll on the PhotoActive Forum and would really appreciate your feedback. Just leave a comment here if you prefer.

A – uncropped

image editing poll - A

B – cropped

image cropping poll B




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UK photography copyright

So often I am asked questions about UK photography copyright, moral rights and every other right.

Some of these questions I am unable to answer and have to point people to an appropriate source of good information.

beyond the lensThere is a book that can help on all these, and many more issues of serious concern for an aspiring professional photographer.

Although it was published in 2003, ‘Beyond the Lens: Rights, Ethics and Business Practice in Professional Photography little has changed in these legal areas and the information in the book is still valid and useful.

There are 200 spiral bound pages and although there are only two customer reviews on Amazon, they are both very positive.

Authors Gwen Thomas and Janet Ibbotson seem to have done a thorough job. A bit pricey at £30, but worth it.

Anyway, I have put the book into the PhotoActive Shop and I hope it will prove extremely informative.

Two other books that will help if you intend to sell your photographs Photos That Sell by Lee Frost – very worthwhile even though it was published in 2001.

The Freelance Photographer’s Market Handbook 2009 – £10.13 an essential annual cost for any photographer selling pictures




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